MOSCOW, February 9. /TASS/. The Kremlin has dismissed Japanese media rumors the Kuril Islands might be handed over to Tokyo for temporary use.
"The origin of this rumor is unclear. This has nothing to do with the reality," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Thursday.
According to earlier reports, Russia and Japan might enter into official consultations over joint economic activity in the South Kuril Islands in March. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida earlier this week declared the establishment of a council for joint economic activity with Russia in the southern Kuril Islands. Kishida said that the Council was expected to make preparations for an early visit to Russia by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Russia’s Minister for the Development of the Far East, Aleksandr Galushka, confirmed that his ministry was getting ready for consultations, too, and would make its own proposals for joint economic activity by Russia and Japan in the South Kurils.
According to some sources, the Council is expected to consider specific projects for cooperation in the South Kuril Islands, including fishing, the production of seafood, tourism and nature conservation. As it has been repeatedly stated, such partnership should not cast doubt over the fundamental positions of Russia and Japan regarding sovereignty over the islands.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan on December 15-16, the two parties agreed to start consultations on joint economic activity in the southern part of the Kuril Archipelago. In March, Tokyo is to host the first round of consultations at the deputy foreign minister level. Attempts at negotiating joint economic activity on the islands were made in the late 1990s. They ended inconclusively, as Japan disagreed to cooperate on the basis of Russian legislation.